At Wandsworth Prep, we subscribe to the belief that good teaching is not underpinned by a static framework but is a skill to be constantly reviewed and developed, in an environment where teachers are supported by a culture of reflection, the room to try new approaches and the scope to make mistakes and further refine their practice.
Somewhat disillusioned by more traditional models of professional development, which, more often than not, takes the form of a two or three-day training session, in September before school starts, followed, perhaps, by a couple of sessions during the academic year; we felt that this approach to professional development alone, which almost every teacher in the land has experienced, rarely results in a significant change in teaching practice nor has great impact on learning for children; which is ultimately, where every school’s focus should lie. For us, the solution lies in coaching.
Whilst coaching has its roots traditionally grounded in business leadership and as a psychological approach to performance in sport, it remains a relatively recent part of the educational landscape. Yet, for those institutions that have chosen such an approach, the most significant outcome has been Improved learning in the classroom; it raises self-awareness, deepens self-reflection, and delivers the most effective progress and results.
The crux behind the effectiveness of coaching is simply a two-way dialogue where the intention is to genuinely involve the other person, coachee, in finding solutions through a process of effective questioning and listening with an open mind. The questions asked, mainly open, are designed to raise awareness within the coachee as to their goals, the current situation and options to move forward whilst also asking them to take personal responsibility and action steps for themselves.
Schools that have adopted coaching report the most fundamental benefit as the school becoming a learning community for staff as well as children. Where the aim is the educational ‘bottom line’ and the focus of any coaching session is related to improving practice, and developing skills and strategies to enable learners to learn better; the result is a palpable upward trend in the quality of teaching and learning and experience of each child in every lesson.
We look forward to providing further updates on the implementation of the staff coaching project at Wandsworth Prep, later in the term.
Bridget Saul - Headteacher